Operators dodge fatigue courses, drivers caught out

Cash-strapped managers skip important fatigue training, while drivers blindly flout working hours

Operators dodge fatigue courses, drivers caught out
Operators dodge fatigue courses, drivers caught out
By Samantha Freestone

Managers are skipping important fatigue training, according to one training provider, while drivers are blindly flouting working hours.

Mike Wood, the boss of training and consultancy firm Latus, says there is little demand for the company’s F64 training module for transport managers.

"Up to Christmas we were running heavily doing training, also on the weekends trying to get everyone through, but since January we’ve only done maybe a dozen," he tells ATN.

Wood believes the economic downturn has operators cutting costs and dodging non-compulsory training.

He says most aren’t bothering to apply for accreditation under basic fatigue (BFM) and advanced fatigue management (AFM) and sticking to ‘standard hours’ which requires no training.

But he worries companies are missing out on important fatigue management education by avoiding higher accreditation.

"I think a lot of people are going to stick to standard hours as people don’t need to do any qualifications to do that," he says.

Wood says many drivers are ignorant of the new framework. He’s concerned sub-contractors and owner-drivers are taking their trucks home or driving them to depots ignorant that those trips count as working hours.

"They’re often driving illegally and they don’t even realise it," he says.

"There is confusion with sub-contractors that once they have done the F10 qualification they have basic fatigue training but this is not the case. The system in place requires you to have auditing for the BFM card."

Meanwhile, police in Victoria report poor fatigue compliance among drivers.

Jeff Millar, who heads up the road safety taskforce within Victoria Police, told today’s Freight 2009 safety forum that breaches are still high.

"We are still seeing a lot of hour breaches as opposed to logbook breaches. Diary breaches are still at the same levels," he says.

"Whether they are BFM or standard hours we are still seeing breaches. And a lot of it is blatant law breaking and not ignorance."

Still, officers are spending "hours and hours" explaining the fatigue obligations to drivers, Millar says.

"If you see what we find and what we action, we are very lenient," he says.

On chain of responsibility, Millar says improvement notices – which act as a warning to operators without penalising them – have had a positive impact on compliance levels.

"The improvement notices have helped immensely," he says.

"Rather than take a company to court if they can demonstrate they have improved in a seven-day period…we are finding businesses are sitting back and looking at their businesses."

Millar says police have restructured chain of responsibility enforcement to focus on industry sectors rather than individual companies.

"With LPG [for example], we were able to get the consignor to take over scheduling which helped," he says.

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